Hey! Je m'appelle Pat Laub and I spent our Semester 2 in 2011 (their Winter Term 1) in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. My time in Canada was amazing, and I miss so many aspects of it already (great friends, beers, crêpes, etc.), but I'll also take the opportunity to list the things I wished I'd done differently for those who have already decided on UBC.

The main reason I went to Vancouver was to go snowboarding in Whistler for a semester. Whistler is a totally mind-blowing experience, and I'm itching to get back there! Which leads me to my first recommendation: go on exchange in Semester 1 instead (Winter Term 2) since the snow season starts barely overlaps the Winter Term 1, and all of the events of the UBC Ski & Board club are scheduled for term 2. Also in Term 2 you'll probably avoid the constant rain that I was not at all prepared for.

Since Engineering students were discouraged from applying to this university, I instead applied as a Computer Science major which turned out to be just fine for both universities.. While at UBC I studied four Computer Science courses and, just for kicks, French101 as well. Studying French in Vancouver was useful since most locals could speak basic French, but you rarely hear it spoken outside of the classroom.

As it was recommended by the exchange departments, I stayed at Totem Park Residential College on campus, which many of my fellow exchange students regretted. The rooms were brand new with heaps of room, so in terms of facilities it was a very nice place to stay.

But it was a college for only 1st year locals (who are underage) and exchange students, which means if you wanted to go out drinking you only end up finding more Australians to go with you. And they kept the exchange students together in the same buildings which meant I met fewer actual Canadians than I would have liked.

Top 5 Tips:

  • Never skip French classes!
  • Take two friends on exchange, even great friendships collapse.
  • Get a Whistler Season pass, it's great value.
  • Avoid Totem Park, at least the new buildings, if you are older or want to meet more Canadians.
  • Try everything once, twice if you like it :)

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